Anonymous asked: Was your very first book harder to write than as say, your most recent book you've written?
One thing Ally Carter and I talk about a lot is the fact that we never seem to learn how to write a book. We just learn how to write this book. Every book comes with its own challenges. Some are more challenging than others.
For me personally, I think the very first (unpublished) book that I ever wrote was easier in some ways and harder in others than what followed. The hard part about the first book was finishing it. Committing myself to a single project, saying “I am going to finish this no matter what,” and not letting myself get distracted by new shiny ideas as they came. Making it through the middle of the book, which (for me) is no fun at all compared to the beginning or the end—that was the hard part of the first book.
Nowadays, finishing isn’t as hard, because I know myself as a writer. I often have deadlines that mean I have to finish, and I’ve learned that just because the middle of the book is hard to write doesn’t mean that it’s bad. I’ve learned that sometimes writing feels like work to me, and that’s okay. I’ve learned how to put my butt in the chair and power through. I’ve learned to trust my process, and that makes things easier.
The flip side to that is that the longer I’ve been published and the more books I’ve written and revised, the more I know about pacing, character development, world-building, and prose. I know what mistakes I’ve made in first drafts in the past, and I go into writing each new draft armed with new knowledge and new goals. I’m much, much tougher on myself than I used to be, and I’m much more mindful of what I put on the page and what I want each book to do.
And that means that the more books I write, the harder the actual writing is. Each book comes with its own challenges, and on top of that, it’s really important to me to improve, to try to make each book better than the last one, to incorporate everything I’ve learned—from writing and revising and reading and watching TV with a critical eye to story—since I wrote the previous book.
The bar keeps getting higher. Each book brings with it new challenges. So while I definitely think finishing books is easier now than it used to be, the actual craft aspect of it is a continual challenge—because if I’m not writing books that challenge and stretch me as a writer, I don’t feel like I’m doing my job.